Are you hoping to have the best-looking lawn that your neighbors envy this year? In order to make your lawn look lush and grow properly, you are going to need a proper grass seed.
Finding the right type of grass can be a daunting task, as there are many factors to consider, such as climate, soil type, and sunlight, not to mention the endless options to choose from in a gardening center. Does your lawn need tall fescue grass or centipede grass to thrive? Do you know what you need to achieve that beautiful dark green grass color?
In this article, we will discuss some of the top types of grass seed, including both cool-season and warm-season varieties, so you can make an informed decision to get the best coverage for your lawn.
Types of Grass
Before we can really dive into the best grass seed for your lawn, we need to clear up the different types of grass.
There are two main types of grass—cool-season grass and warm-season grass.
Cool-season grasses thrive better in northern climates when temperatures dip down to 32°F or lower. These grasses need regular mowing, irrigation, and fertilizing to stay healthy but come back quickly in the spring months from even the coldest winters.
Here are common cool-season grasses:
Kentucky Bluegrass is known for its rich, deep green color and dense growth, and it’s often referred to as the perfect lawn grass. Kentucky Bluegrass can tolerate low mowing heights and provides excellent drought tolerance. However, if it’s not fertilized regularly or kept consistently moist, it may develop patches of weeds or disease, making it more difficult to grow than other grasses.
When to plant: The best time to plant Kentucky Bluegrass is in the late summer or early fall when temperatures start to cool off and the soil temperature is at least 60°F.
Perennial Ryegrass is known for its fast germination and growth rates. It thrives in sunny, partial or dense shade areas and is both cold-temperature and drought-tolerant, making it ideal for northern climates. Perennial Rye also has excellent disease resistance and can tolerate traffic from pets or children. However, it isn’t as good at holding color in the winter months due to its shallow root system. Still, this option has become more and more popular with people seeding new lawns.
When to plant: The ideal time to plant or reseed with Perennial Ryegrass is in the fall when soil temperatures are between 65-70°F. The seeds should be planted 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep and covered lightly with soil. It’s important to water the newly planted seeds regularly until they germinate, typically 7-14 days after planting. After it’s established, Perennial Ryegrass does well with less frequent watering.
Tall Fescue often has a turf-like appearance. It’s a popular choice for lawns due to its excellent disease and tolerance to extreme temperatures. It also has good color retention in colder months, making it ideal for areas with winter climates. However, Tall Fescue isn’t suitable for drought-prone areas, and it needs regular fertilizing and mowing to stay healthy.
When to plant: Tall Fescue is best planted in the spring or fall when the temperatures are mild and the ground is moist. It’s important to wait until soil temperatures are 40 °F or higher before planting, as this helps ensure successful germination. Once the grass has been planted, it should be watered regularly for about six weeks until it’s established. After that, it can tolerate periods of drought.
Fine Fescue grass seed is perfect for shaded, low-maintenance areas. It can be mixed with other grasses or planted alone and requires little mowing or fertilizing. Fine Fescue is drought tolerant and performs best in sunny to partially shaded environments with moist, well-drained soils.
When to plant: Fall Fescue should be planted in the fall when soil temperatures are between 60-65°F. It prefers sandy, clay or loam soils and should be planted in either full sun or partial shade. To ensure successful establishment, it’s important to make sure the seed is planted at least 1/4 inch deep and kept moist until germination, typically 7-21 days after planting.
Warm-season grasses are usually best suited for southern states and thrive in the summer months when temperatures can reach over 90°F. They typically require less maintenance than cool-season grasses and are salt-tolerant and drought-resistant.
Here are a few common types of warm-season grasses:
Zoysia grass is known for its quick establishment and low maintenance needs. It is drought tolerant, shade tolerant and grows slowly, reducing mowing needs. It is also a great option if your area has heavy foot traffic and is one of the softest grasses for bare feet.
When to plant: Zoysia grass should be planted in the spring when the soil temperatures are above 65°F. It prefers sandy, clay or loam soils and should be planted in either full sun or partial shade. Once established, this type of grass will require little to no fertilization and can survive with very little water.
Augustine grass is known for its easy care and thick, carpet-like turf. It thrives in hot climates and is a top grass choice for Florida residents because it requires full sun to perform best. Not only is it a great option for warm climates, but Augustine is one of the few types of grass that can also handle salt water.
When to plant: To establish Augustine grass, it should be planted in the spring when soil temperatures are above 65°F. Again, this type of grass prefers sandy, clay or loam soils and should be planted in full sun. This will allow the grass to grow quickly and become established quickly.
Centipede grass is native to Asia. It can be found in the southeastern United States and parts of Mexico, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. This grass has a light to medium green color and requires only minimal maintenance, making it a popular choice for lawns. Centipede grass is tolerant of drought, heat and general neglect, making it an ideal grass type for those who want a low-maintenance lawn.
When to plant: Centipede grass is typically planted in the springtime when soil temperatures reach 65 degrees Fahrenheit. It is important to wait for the soil temperatures to warm up before planting, as centipede grass will not germinate in cold temperatures. Planting centipede grass seed can be done by broadcast or slit seeding and should take place during a period of warm weather with adequate amounts of water available.
Bermuda grass is known for its hardy, drought-resistant nature and quick germination rate. It thrives in hot climates and requires full sun to perform best. It is also a great option for heavy foot traffic.
When to plant: Bermuda grass seed should be planted in the late spring or early summer when soil temperatures are above 65°F. It prefers sandy or clay soils and should be planted in full sun for optimal growth. Once established, this type of grass will require regular fertilization and weekly mowing during the growing season to maintain optimal performance.
Bahia grass is a warm season grass native to parts of the southern United States and Mexico. It is known for its vigorous growth, deep-rooted system, and ability to withstand low fertility levels. This type of grass does best in full sun but can tolerate partial shade.
When to plant: Bahia grass should be planted in early summer when soil temperatures are above 65°F. It does best when planted in full sun, although it can tolerate partial shade. The soil should be well-draining; sandy or clay soils are best. Planting should be done carefully to ensure the roots of the grass have made good contact with the soil. Watering Bahiagrass immediately after planting is important as this will help stimulate root growth and provide a deeper rooting system.
If you are unsure of the best type of grass for where you live, you can check out your gardening zone or hardiness zone.
Plant Hardiness zones is a system developed to help gardeners determine which plants are suitable for the climate they live in. Each zone is defined by its average annual minimum temperature, and each plant is assigned a hardiness rating that indicates how well it will tolerate cold temperatures. You can enter your zip code or state into the map to see exactly what will grow best in your area.
Knowing your gardening zone helps make sure you choose plants with the right hardiness rating for your environment, giving them their best chance for survival.
Factors To Consider Before Choosing Your Grass Seed
Before choosing the grass seed for your lawn, there are several factors to consider. First, you need to determine what type of grass best suits your needs.
We’ve already discussed the top different varieties of grass and their different qualities, so selecting one that is best suited for your climate, soil type, and desired use can make a big difference in the long run. Your selection will depend on where you live and what activity levels the area will experience throughout the year. In addition to the overall climate, it is important to understand if you are planning to plant grass seed in shady areas or in a spot that gets sun throughout the entire day.
You will want to consider any special care requirements that certain lawn seeds may need, such as mowing height and fertilization schedule. Taking these considerations into account can help ensure you select the right type of grass seed for your lawn’s unique characteristics. Make sure you understand if it is a high-traffic area, that type of grass is going to be different than a low-traffic spot and picking the right grass seed matters, especially if you have pets or kiddos playing on your lawn.
New Grass or Reseeding
Are you planting brand-new grass or reseeding an existing lawn? Reseeding existing grass is a lot different than planting brand new grass. The best grass for thickening will be different than the grass you need for starting from scratch on a layer of topsoil.
Single Seed or Mixed Seed
Single seed is a type of grass seed that contains only one variety and is typically used for large lawns, golf courses, and professional landscaping. This type of grass seed is more expensive than mixed seed and can require more maintenance, such as fertilization, to achieve desired results.
Mixed seed, on the other hand, is a combination of two or more varieties of grass seeds. Mixed seed is generally cheaper than single seed, and due to the different varied types of the mixture, it can often be better adapted to the local environment. While mixed blends require less maintenance, they may not produce a uniform appearance compared to single-seeded areas.
Each mixture is designed to produce different results, such as a faster germination rate or better durability – depending on the area and climate it will be planted in. Additionally, some mixtures contain seeds that are tolerant to drought or disease, making them ideal for areas with extreme weather conditions.
Planting Grass Seed
Here are the steps to take for both planting grass seed in a new lawn as well as reseeding an existing lawn.
Planting grass seed in a new lawn is not a difficult process, but there are several steps you should take to ensure successful results.
Step One: Prepare the soil by removing any existing debris, such as rocks or sticks, and preparing it for seeding.
Step Two: Choose the type of grass seed (single or mixed grass seed mix) that is best suited for the climate and area, and purchase the appropriate quantity.
Step Three: Once the soil is ready, spread a thin layer of fertilizer over it (two pounds per every 1000 square feet), followed by the grass seed.
Step Four: Spread grass seed evenly over the entire area and rake in lightly.
Step Five: Water twice daily until germination occurs.
Reseeding a lawn is similar to planting a new lawn but with fewer steps.
Step One: Start by mowing your lawn as short as possible and removing any debris or dead grass.
Step Two: Spread a thin layer of fertilizer over the area – two pounds per every 1000 square feet – followed by the grass seed.
Step Three: Evenly distribute the seed throughout the whole area and rake it in lightly.
Step Four: Water twice daily until germination occurs.
The 6 Best Grass Seeds
Now that you know how to determine what type of seed you need to grow and how to plant them to make your lawn lush and green this season. Here are our favorite options.
1. Top Overall Grass Seed – Scotts Turf Builder Sun and Shade Mix
Scotts Turf Builder Sun and Shade Mix is a great option for lawns that receive both sun and shade, like areas of Northern California and Colorado. This mix includes Perennial Ryegrass, Tall Fescue, and Red and Chewing Fescue to provide year-long color and texture.
The Scotts Turf Builder Sun and Shade Mix has over 30,000 reviews on Amazon and also contains an active soil improver to help your lawn absorb more water, nutrients and fertilizer for better growth.
This mix has very low water needs and is resistant to drought, making it ideal for areas with low rainfall. The mix also works well in dense shade areas as it grows slowly, so it can easily fit into any landscaping design. You can use it to plant a brand new lawn or reseed an existing lawn. This is not a great option if you live in a southern climate.
2. Top Warm-Season Grass Seed – Scotts Turf Builder Grass Seed Southern Gold Mix
Scotts Turf Builder Grass Seed Southern Gold Mix is a perfect option for lawns in the Southern US. It features a unique blend of high-quality, drought-tolerant grasses that are specially bred to grow in warmer climates. This mix includes varieties such as Bermuda grass, Zoysia, Centipede and Augustine grass, which are very heat-tolerant and ideal for hot climates.
The mix also has improved disease resistance, so your lawn stays healthy even under stress. It thrives with minimal maintenance and requires less water than other types of seed mixes. The Scotts Turf Builder Grass Seed Southern Gold Mix has a 4-in-1 WaterSmart coating, which helps your lawn retain moisture even in the dead of the summer heat.
With just the right amount of sun exposure and proper maintenance, your lawn will stay lush and beautiful all year round with this mix.
3. Top Cool-Season Grass Seed – Jonathan Green Black Beauty Ultra
Jonathan Green Black Beauty Ultra Grass Seed is a great choice for lawns in northern climates that need extra drought and disease resistance attention. This mix contains four varieties of grass seed: Kentucky Bluegrass, Perennial Ryegrass, Chewings Fescue and Fine Fescue. These varieties are specially chosen for their ability to germinate quickly and stand up to extreme heat and drought conditions. The mix also includes a special blend of endophytes which provide added disease resistance while still providing the lush green color of traditional grasses. With superior drought tolerance and a fast germination rate, this mix will help your lawn stay healthy and vibrant even in times of stress.
4. Top Low-Maintenance Grass Seed – Scotts Turf Builder Grass Seed Tall Fescue Mix
Scotts Turf Builder Grass Seed Tall Fescue Mix is ideal for lawns in middle America. It doesn’t thrive in areas with extreme heat or extreme cold.
This mix contains several varieties of Tall Fescue, a cool-season grass that thrives in cold temperatures and resists drought. Scotts Turf Builder Grass Seed Tall Fescue Mix ensures a healthy, lush green lawn with improved disease resistance and minimal maintenance. The mix consists of both fine and coarse blades, which provide a soft yet strong surface; the mixture produces an even coverage throughout the entire lawn with superior durability. With this mix, your lawn will remain beautiful year-round with minimal effort on your part.
5. Top High-Traffic Grass Seed – Scotts Turf Builder Grass Seed High Traffic Mix
Another option from Scotts is on the list because they are one of the best in the grass seed game. The Turf Builder Grass Seed High Traffic Mix is designed for areas that are heavily used, such as children’s playgrounds and sports fields.
This mix contains several varieties of Perennial Ryegrass, which have superb wear tolerance. The mix also contains turf-type Tall Fescue, which adds durability, improved disease resistance and rich green color to the lawn. With superior drought tolerance and a fast germination rate, this mix will provide a lush green lawn while standing up to heavy use. The blend is carefully formulated to ensure evenly distributed coverage throughout the entire area with minimal effort on your part. It also offers its famous 4-in-1 WaterSmart Plus coating for retaining moisture and keeping your lawn looking fresh no matter what is trampling through it during the day.
6. Top Budget Grass Seed – Vigoro Tall Fescue Grass Seed Blend
Closing out the list with a budget-friendly option is the Vigoro Tall Fescue Grass Seed Blend. This Tall Fescue blend is designed to thrive in cooler climates but does not bear well in the deep south as it is not cut out for those extremely high temps.
This blend contains five premium varieties of Tall Fescue, providing a strong and durable lawn and is another great option for a highly trafficked area in your yard. It also contains improved disease resistance, faster germination rate and better drought tolerance compared to other seed blends on the market. With this blend, you can easily achieve a thick green lawn with improved wearability and minimal maintenance needs. In addition, it produces an even coverage throughout your entire lawn, giving it a thick, lush look year-round.
Do you still have a few questions about the best grass seed for your lawn? We’ve got you covered.
How do you handle bare spots with grass seed?
To handle bare spots with grass seed, rake up the area to remove debris and till into the soil about two inches deep. Spread a thin layer of organic matter like compost over the area and lightly water it. Then spread a thin layer of grass seed over the top and lightly rake it in. Water the patch twice daily for two weeks to ensure successful germination and growth.
What time of day should you water new grass?
The best time to water newly planted grass seed is early in the morning so that the sun isn’t as hot and there is plenty of time for the water to soak into the soil and not evaporate. Watering late in the day also increases the risk of fungal diseases and can lead to root rot.
How often should you water new grass?
New grass should be watered daily for the first two weeks to help the seeds germinate and get established, followed by 1-2 times a week during the summer months. Newly planted grass needs more frequent watering, but as it matures, you can gradually reduce the amount of water it needs.
Where is the best place to buy grass seeds?
The best place to buy grass seeds depends on what type of grass you are looking for. Local garden centers or nurseries typically carry a variety of types of grass seeds and can provide advice about the best type for your particular area. Other good places to look include major home improvement stores, online retailers like Amazon, and even agricultural suppliers in your area that might have the grass seed blend you are looking for.
Do you need to water your grass year-round?
Generally, grass needs to be watered year-round during periods of low rainfall. Grass should be adequately hydrated through the summer months and winter months when there is a lack of rain. During the fall and spring months, grass typically doesn’t need to be watered as much due to the natural rainfall that occurs during these seasons.
Can you overseed your lawn?
Yes, you can overseed your lawn. When you overseed your lawn, you are essentially planting more grass seed in an area that already has some grass growing. If too much seed is used, then the grass will become overcrowded and lead to an unhealthy lawn with weeds taking over. It is important to follow instructions on the package when overseeding your lawn in order to achieve optimal results.
Are seed spreaders worth it?
Seed spreaders can be beneficial for planting all types of grass. However, it is best to check the manufacturer’s instructions for the particular grass being planted.
What is a transition zone?
A transition zone in gardening refers to the area where two distinct climate zones meet. It is a buffer zone used to help plants better tolerate different temperatures and levels of precipitation. Transition zones are typically located along the edges of properties or gardens and can be helpful for introducing new plants that may not otherwise survive in an area due to changing weather conditions.
Having a healthy lawn is essential for any homeowner, as it adds to the aesthetic of the home and can be used for recreational activities. If you want to have a perfectly green lawn, it is important to pick out the proper seed mixture and understand the required maintenance to give your yard the TLC it needs to thrive.
Proper lawn care can transform any yard into a lush and vibrant area that can bring joy to your home or business.
You might also be interested in: The 7 Best Ways To Get Rid Of Weeds In Your Yard And Stop Them Coming Back